Medical Studies Show Link Between Shoulder Pain Pumps & PAGCL

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Medical studies from the American Journal of Sports Medicine (ASJM) and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) have reported that using shoulder pain pumps after shoulder surgery may have a direct relationship to the debilitating condition known as Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL) or shoulder arthroscopy.

Details of the studies

Both the ASJM and AAOS studies provide a direct link to shoulder surgeries using pain pumps and PAGCL:

  • ASJM: According to the AJSM’s October 2007 issue, pain pumps may actually deliver too much medication to the shoulder after surgery, permanently deteriorating and eventually destroying cartilage in that area. In fact, according to Dr. Charles Beck, an orthopedic surgeon and senior author of the study, “The findings demonstrate a strong association between the intra-articular (inside the joint space) use of high volume pain pumps following arthroscopic shoulder surgery and an otherwise unexplainable loss of hyaline cartilage in the shoulder joint… PAGCL is permanent and can lead to extreme pain and lifelong suffering in 63 percent of the patients that use them. The medical records of numerous other patients suggest the complications may occur following open surgery as well.”
  • AAOS: In a 2006 study by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, several shoulder surgery patients who developed PAGCL were studied. The results showed that the one factor they had in common was that they all used a pain pump after their surgery.

Manufacturers haven’t done their own studies

According to legal experts, pain pump manufacturers, such as Stryker, DJO Inc., I-Flow and BREG Inc., haven’t conducted studies of their own – or at least any that have been made public. In fact, product liability attorneys familiar with pain pump litigation are often baffled by the fact that manufacturers haven’t done any studies. However, many believe that the companies have done their own studies, but just haven’t made them public.

No warnings given either

Except for I-Flow, none of the other pain pump manufacturers have warned doctors or patients about the possibility of contracting PAGCL. Legal experts have said that they’re baffled by this as well. When manufacturers know, or should know, that their product may cause serious side effects, they have a duty to provide a warning. Since most have not – and the possibility of contracting PAGCL after using shoulder pain pumps is now common knowledge – it’s likely that will be a major factor in the hundreds of pending lawsuits against these manufacturers.

Signs & symptoms of PAGCL

Numerous studies have shown that PAGCL typically occurs within three to 12 months after shoulder surgery. Symptoms may include shoulder pain whether in motion or at rest; clicking, popping or grinding of the shoulder; shoulder stiffness or weakness and decreased range of motion. The condition may become permanent and cause loss of mobility.

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